Sources close to the party told the Sunday Tribune that the former Borno governor had been central to some discussions between aggrieved members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the PDP.
It was gathered that the former All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) strongman is seen as a compromise candidate between the leadership of the PDP and the prospective defectors.
“A number of discussions are currently ongoing in the polity which will lead to a possible merger between the PDP and some existing political parties as well as a number of aggrieved members of the APC from across the country. Not many members of the PDP are aware of the contacts and discussions going on and that is why they raised the alarm at the emergence of Senator Modu Sheriff.
“The governors are fully aware of the situation and that is why they insisted on Modu Sheriff, who is like a compromise candidate between the core PDP loyalists and the expected defectors,” a source said at the weekend.
Sources insisted that the merger discussions had been ongoing for some time and that it also involves aggrieved members of the ruling APC, who are of the view that the government has been taken over by elements of only one of the legacy parties, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) which was founded by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was gathered that aside political figures, members of the APC who are aggrieved also include some governors who are of the view that they have been shut out of reckoning at the seat of power.
A source said that only a handful of the APC governors are actually loyal to the party as things stand, as a number of them are said to be at a loss as to the direction of the government at the centre.
It was gathered that the APC has been sharply divided for some time now and that the division was partly responsible for the indefinite postponement of the planned launch of its constitution, which has been interpreted into Nigerian languages, on Tuesday last week.
The programme, scheduled as APC’s roadshow of its commitment to Nigerian people, was postponed indefinitely but the party did not give reasons.
But sources close to the party insisted that the postponement was due to the widening gulf between stakeholders as well as governors of the party.
The sources further said that following the u-turn by leaders of the PDP towards the end of last week, Senator Sheriff will only complete the remainder of the tenure of Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu. The leaders are already fashioning a top position for the Bormo politician.
It was learnt that Sheriff is already being lined up for the post of Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) when he completes his tenure in two months time.
“Following the decision that Modu Sheriff will only complete the tenure of the North East and with the decision that the North will produce the next presidential candidate of the PDP, the incumbent chairman may be asked to take up the post of BoT chairman at the end of his tenure. That will ensure that he continues to play his roles in the ongoing negotiations that would lead to the emergence of a new mega party,” another source said on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the negative reactions that trailed the emergence of Senator Sheriff as the new PDP boss have taken a new twist with his final endorsement by ex-President, Goodluck Jonathan.
Sunday Tribune can now authoritatively reveal that as a sign of solidarity to the choice of Sheriff by the party, Jonathan who was said to be monitoring the entire process last Tuesday, immediately put through a telephone call, congratulated Sheriff and assured him of total support in his new assignment.
According to Sunday Tribune source, Senator Sheriff was said to be in a “thank you”meeting with a group within the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, under the umbrella of G84, when Jonathan’s call came.
“At this point, Sheriff exchanged compliments with former President Jonathan and apologised to him for not being the first to call and brief him about the new assignment of which Jonathan in his usual manner told him never to worry but rather should count on his support,” the source stated.
PDP’s G84 was said to be the creation former President Olusegun Obasanjo while in power to checkmate the powers of governors and members of the National Assembly elected on the platform of the party and had voting rights at NEC of the party.
According to the source, “the G84 comprises the national ex-officios of the party under Hon Udoh Ekpeyong, the National deputy officers of the party under Hon Denis Alonge-Niyi, the 37 state chairmen of the party under Dr Emmanuel Agboh and the six zonal vice chairmen of the party.”
The group, the Sunday Tribune learnt, played a major role in the emergence of Sheriff as the National Chairman of the party as its National Caucus incorporated the members in the selection process as part of efforts to ensure transparency
According to the source, the group reportedly advised Sheriff to note the significance of the call from the former president in handling the affairs of the party and the task of rebuilding it, saying that their support for his choice as the new chairman of the party was not for monetary gains as being speculated in some quarters.
The source, however, dispelled the speculation doing the round in some quarters that Jonathan was behind the candidature of a minister of state under his administration, Honourable Mohammed Wakil, in his fresh bid to control the soul of the party.
“People were only dropping Jonathan’s name to garner support and recognition for selfish interest, Jonathan never gave anybody his words of support, all of them have been very close to him, even Sheriff supported his going to Borno State and Republic of Chad at the peak of the Boko Haram activities in the North East. Former President Jonathan is not against Sheriff, some people parading themselves as Jonathan’s men are fake, when last did they see him. They are betrayers,” said our source.
Meanwhile, ministers who served in the government of immediate past president, Dr Jonathan, under the auspices of Peoples Democratic Party Former Ministers Forum, will, on Tuesday, meet in Abuja over the appointment of Sheriff.
An advertorial signed by the secretary of the forum and former Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Chief Jumoke Akinjide, said the meeting would deliberate on “concerns arising from the recent developments” in the party.
Slated for Nicon Hotel, Abuja at 11.00 am, the meeting is also to chart a way forward for the party after reviewing issues affecting the party.
Also, in a statement, the spokesperson of the Forum and immediate past Minister of National Planning, Dr SulaimanAbubakar, said he and other like-minds would rather review their membership of the party than submit to the “selfish interest of some cabal whose main goal is political profiteering.”
He described Sheriff’s emergence as drawing a curtain on the rescue mission aimed at rebuilding the party and positioning it for better performance in 2019, adding that the “redemption boat has capsized.”
IT emerged at the weekend that the insistence of the governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to field the former Governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, as the National Chairman of the party was due to some underground arrangements currently ongoing in the polity.